Story: Evan Dorkin
Art: Benjamin Dewey
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
What They Say:
When supernatural occurrences sweep the community of Burden Hill, it’s up to a heroic gang of cats and dogs to keep residents safe from harm. A bizarre disturbance leads these four-legged neighbors on a wild-goose chase into the depths of the nearby forest, where loyalties are tested and lives come to an abrupt end.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Originally showing up in a range of books from Dark Horse that were short stories done with Jill Thompson, the publisher has finally moved forward with a miniseries all of its own for the Beasts of Burden. I did not read those previous works but I like Evan Dorkin’s stuff a good bit and he’s got a lot going on here – even if it feels a bit too dialogue heavy with as many characters as they are that end up blurring because of it. He’s got a great partner in this with Benjamin Dewey on the art duties as the painted look of it and just the flow and nature of it all looks so intense with so many details. And the color work part of it is just fantastic, giving it such a distinct feeling and really drawing on the earthiness side in all the right ways.
The premises here is interesting in that we basically get a series that involves a larger group of dogs of all varieties that live in Burden Hill. They’re lead by Lundy, it seems, and they work together to deal with supernatural events that happen in the area. This issue opens with a fire on the forest hillside where all the animals are fleeing and calling out to others to run as part of a group safety aspect. But in the midst of this we see Lundy making his way toward the fire. It turns out the fire is being caused by a sizable salamander that’s been caught in a trap with runes on it and it’s overreacting and causing the larger problem. While Lundy does free him with a little magical help, he hides the fact that the salamander survives from the others because there’s an element of kindness to him whereas the others would want to eliminate the threat – especially from a non-native invasive species like that.
The book spends a lot of debriefing time after this opening act and it’s filled with way too many dogs for me to keep track of, but it does set the tone well so we understand how all of this works. Slowly but surely we’re introduced to the threat that exists in the area with the lurkers underneath, goblins of sorts basically, and that there are definitely different types and something else is going on here in general. But the fun comes in watching how these various types of dogs interact and speak with each other while trying to figure out what’s going on even as Lundy basically carefully answers confidently about what happened to the salamander. It’s a small point but it shows the kind of structure that’s going on here. The action in the back half with the lurkers is really nicely done and it shows just how some of this can play out between the species.
Beasts of Burden definitely has me interested in what it’s going to do because it looks great, has some interesting ideas, and the concept is definitely up my alley. It’s a very busy first issue with a lot going on here and a huge cast that only has one or two worth remembering the names of so far. But it introduces some good stuff as it progresses and has me intrigued to see where Dorkin is going to go with it. The big draw is definitely the painted style artwork as it’s so distinct and filled with so much detail that it stands out beautifully and left me wanting more just to be able to keep looking at it and all the little elements of it.
Age Rating: 15+
Released By: AfterShock Comics
Release Date: August 29th, 2018